Suffolk 365: An innovative integrated #hesm campaign to reach out to alums, students & more

February 24th, 2014 Karine Joly 2 Comments

We live in a world of multiple media, channels, audiences, goals, publishers and so on. Unfortunately, it’s very rare to find anything truly unique today – except maybe time, the time you can spend investing on your marketing and communication initiatives. This is probably the only thing that has NOT gone through the multiplication process (if it has for you – please share your secret).

We’ve all learned (or should have ) over the years that integrated marketing and communication make as much sense for universities and colleges as they do for brands, big corporation or small businesses. That’s the secret sauce to reach your (too) busy audiences.

suffolk1Yet, it’s still super rare to find an example of a truly integrated digital campaign developed by an in-house team. Integrated campaigns are the life and blood of agencies, so that’s why it’s easier to spot or find those.

That’s the reason why I got so excited after having a look at Suffolk 365, the latest digital initiative from Suffolk University. I received the tip via email from one of my email newsletter readers, Joshua Walovitch, Director of Digital + Social Media at Suffolk last week. I found out more about the campaign through a quick phone conversation with Joshua a couple of days later.

A true, beautifully integrated digital campaign

So, what got me so excited in this campaign?

While its main goal is to showcase the direct outcomes of a Suffolk education by featuring the profiles of young grads, the Suffolk 365 campaign includes many calls-to-action (CTAs).

Relying on the mix of a great video, a beautifully designed responsive website (by Charles Lockwood, Interactive Designer at Suffolk University), a series of social outreach posts, email campaigns and even some cleverly designed social media ads, Suffolk 365 is trying to cover all the basis to reach and tie together its target audiences of prospective and current students, young grads and even older alums.

It’s beautifully crafted, aligned with strategic goals and with clear CTAs that make possible and easy to measure the impact of the campaign on different audiences, channels, media and devices.

The campaign was designed in-house by a team also including Georgy Cohen who provided editorial guidance and was part of the general concept brainstorming and planning discussions. Georgy explained in a reply to my follow-up email that “the video and profiles were created by freelancers, not in-house.” Some of the photography was done by our in-house staff photographer, other photos were taken by freelancers.

Suffolk University Career Development Center also helped in identifying alums for the profiles and acquiring the data that shapes the site.

The video has been quite successful so far with more than 6,000 views at the time of this writing – it’s catchy and in synch with the interests of the targeted audience: who in this group wouldn’t want to find a dream job after graduation?

It’s important to note that all these views were not organic, as Suffolk University did a YouTube pay-per-view ad campaign on the following keywords or key phrases among others: “best college in boston”, “schools in boston,” “universities in boston,” “how to land a job after college,” “how much will I make after I graduate.”

By putting the spotlight on the dream jobs of very young grads through great pictures and interviews, the Suffolk 365 website makes it easy for prospective and current students to see themselves there in a year or 4.

1 homepage, 5 calls to action: too much of a good thing?

The Suffolk 365 website features 5 different calls-to-action:

  1. sign up for the admitted student reception
  2. refer a prospective student
  3. book a campus visit
  4. explore the program
  5. share your own dream job story

suffolk_2

That’s a lot by any standard.

As Professor Schwartz explains in “The Paradox of Choice,” a book I reviewed in 2013, too many choices can freeze people up and push them to leave with answering ANY of your calls-to-action.

So, I asked Joshua about it – and he explained that each CTAs was designed to target different audiences and is tied to specific targeted email or advertising campaigns.

The website provides the big unified picture, but the CTAs are supposed to be activated and triggered independently.

That’s pretty cool, don’t you think?

Nice on paper, but what about results?

Launched 2 weeks ago the campaign is currently in full steam. So, it will take a bit more time to see if we can call it a success. However, the first results look pretty good.

Joshua provided some metrics covering activity from last week on the website: about 7K pageviews with an average time of site of 96 seconds.

Last week, more than a third of that total traffic was coming from Facebook – something that Joshua explained by the outreach efforts done on Facebook at that time.

Another interesting metric pertains to the division of traffic between devices: 38% was done on mobile & tablet, 62% on desktop. This shouldn’t be surprising given the fact that the responsive website is made to work as well on desktops as on mobile phones or tablets. It’s not driving away the users checking it after hearing about it on Facebook while browsing on their mobile device.

Since the 5th call to action is prompting young grads to share their own career story, I was curious as to how well this one has performed so far. Joshua told me that in the first week, they receive 14 different stories. While there is no direct dollar amount attached to this specific CTA, this is a very important step in the engagement funnel.

As Ryan Catherwood wrote in the past, most of young alums don’t have the means to contribute financially to fundraising efforts, but they are interested in volunteer opportunities and recognition. Sharing their story – and thus feeding authentic content to the institution – could be the first step of a very long journey leading to major gifts down the line.